Cheese, brittle and fig jam cookies: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for edible Christmas gifts | Food
IIt’s hard to write about homemade food gifts without sounding like a clichÃ©. But some opinions are overused just because they’re, well, so true. The older I get, the less âstuffâ I want and the more happiness feels like something delicious that someone has taken the time to prepare for me. So, for anyone planning DIY gifts for the weeks to come, here’s something salty, something sweet, and something to raise a glass (or toast).
âToutâ cheese makers (top photo)
These gourmet cheesecakes are good enough to eat on their own or with a little chutney spread on top. Freeze uncooked logs for up to a month, then thaw and slice before cooking.
Preperation 15 mins
Coldness 1 hour
to cook 25 minutes
Rest 30 minutes
For âallâ mixing / coating
15g onion granules
15g of poppy seeds
10 g black sesame seeds
15g white sesame seeds
5g of garlic granules
For the cheese cookies
150g of Gruyere, coarsely grated
50g matured cheddar, coarsely grated
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Â½ teaspoon of table salt
Â½ teaspoon of flaked sea salt
1 teaspoon of mild curry
120g plain flour
75g pine nuts, grossly blitzed
1 egg white, beaten (or a little water)
Combine all coating ingredients in a small bowl.
Place both cheeses and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle in place, then mix on medium speed for four to five minutes, until creamy and slightly fluffy. Add the pepper, both salts, curry powder, flour and pine nuts, and mix again, this time on low speed, until it begins to come together into a paste. Place it on a clean work surface and gently work the dough into a ball.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log about 24 cm long. Wrap each log in a sheet of parchment paper, twist both ends tightly to seal, then roll the log back and forth a few times to make it look nice and even. Refrigerate for about an hour, until the dough logs are firm.
Heat the oven to 175C (155C fan) / 310F / gas 2Â½, and spread the âallâ mixture on a large baking sheet. Peel off the paper from each log, brush them with beaten egg white (or water), then roll them in the seasoning mixture, pressing lightly as you go, so that they are evenly coated.
Cut the logs into 1cm rounds and place them 2cm apart on two large 40cm x 30cm baking sheets. Bake for about 22 minutes, turning the trays once halfway through cooking, until golden brown, then remove and let cool completely for 30 minutes before serving. Once baked, cookies will keep for up to five days in an airtight container.
Ginger and brittle pecans
It’s a two-in-one gift: the brittle is delicious as it is, or mix it into a decadent praline paste to smother on toast or drizzle with ice cream. If you prefer, replace the pecans with other nuts such as hazelnuts or almonds. It is crucial that the pecans are hot when you add them to the caramel, otherwise they will cool the mixture and it will harden too quickly.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 25 minutes
Adjust 30 minutes
140g of pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
225g caster sugar
150g golden syrup
75 g unsalted butter
60g of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
tsp baking soda
teaspoon of flaked salt
Heat the oven to 120C (fan 100C) / 230F / gas â . Place the pecans on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put in the oven to warm up while you make the caramel.
Put the sugar, golden syrup, butter, 70 ml of room temperature water and ginger in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, for three minutes, until ‘it is bubbling. Once everything is boiling furiously, cook, stirring frequently, for another 11 minutes, until the caramel turns dark amber. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should read 170C; otherwise, have a bowl of very cold water handy and drop a spoonful of caramel in it: it’s ready when it immediately solidifies into a ball and sinks to the bottom.
Remove pot from heat and immediately stir in baking soda and pecans, keeping the lined pecan tray handy. Working quickly, pour the caramel onto the now empty tray and use a spatula to spread it about Â½ cm thick and 22-24 cm in diameter. While the caramel is still hot, sprinkle with crumbled salt, then let cool and harden for 30 minutes.
Once cool, break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
To turn the brittle into a praline paste, break the chips into small pieces, put them in a food processor and blend until they are very smooth and shiny, scraping the bowl several times as you go. Pour into sterilized, airtight jars and refrigerate for up to one month.
Fig jam in mulled wine
This festive treat of spicy and alcoholic sweetness will brighten up any Christmas cheese board or your morning toast. Just make sure you keep some for yourself. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Macerate: 1 hour
Preperation 20 mins
to cook 40 minutes
Makes 1 jar of 900g
12 black figs (900g), cut into 1cm pieces
275g jam sugar (AKA sugar preservative)
4 lemons, 5 thin strips of grated zest and cut into julienne, the rest squeezed, to obtain 75ml
2 oranges, 5 thin strips of grated zest and cut into julienne, the rest in juice, to obtain 200ml
25g of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Sea salt flakes
250 ml of red wine
60 ml of cognac
First marinate the figs. Put the first eight ingredients in a large bowl with half a teaspoon of crumbled salt, stir to combine, then let stand for an hour, until the figs have released all of their juice.
Pour the fig mixture into a large saucepan, add the wine and place over medium-high heat. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to start and skimming off any scum that comes to the surface. Towards the end of cooking, stir more regularly to prevent the jam from sticking and burning.
After the time is up and the jam mixture is thick and shiny, remove from the heat and, while still hot, stir in the brandy. Transfer to a large sterilized jar (or two small jars) and let cool completely before closing tightly with a lid. Refrigerate if you are not using it right away and serve cold or at room temperature.